Carl Grant has an excellent blog post about a vendor’s perspective on the case of the Library Linked Data Model. It is well worth a read if you are interested in Library Linked Data or how any other new idea/concept/profuct/service gets implemented by a vendor. Carl says that before vendors can invest (heavily) into Librry Linked Data the need to have some questions answered:
It includes a lack of clear understanding of what exactly are the problems being solved for the profession by this technology that can only be solved with the Library Linked Data model or that can’t be otherwise solved? Are these problems shared across the profession, across institutions? Is it agreed that the Library Linked Data model is the solution? If so, how many institutions, or even personal services, are in production status using this model to solve those problems?
This are interesting questions and ones I don’t have any answer for. The idea of Linked Data in the library world has been pushed around for a while, but it has only been recently that I have seen any working prototypes and implementations. While I am impressed with what some people have done and I understand some of the potential benefits, I don’t think any of the above questions have been answered. I’d really like to see some answers to the first one – especially what benefit will our users gain from it. I really want to be convinced that any significant investment in Library Linked Data will benefit our end users and I don’t see it (yet). I have never heard a student or professor come to me with a problem that linked data will solve more completely or more efficiently then other solutions. I imagine that will come with time, but until it does it is hard to make the case to go all-in on linked data.
There may be some benefits (mostly in the form of efficiency) from a staff point of view, but I am still not sure that at this point they outweigh the costs of implementation. Also, as Carl asks in his post (question #3), “How do we see this data being maintained? ” Unless you can give me a clear plan that shows sustainability, again it is hard to get behind the linked data model.
What does this all me? The proponents of Library Linked Data need to get out and show some real world examples on how it will help end-users and/or how it will create efficiencies that can not be seen by other solution. For example, if you are talking about bibliographic and related data, how would linked data be better then OCLC’s centralized Web Scale Management Services or Ex Libris’s Alma (assuming for Alma that the community zone is populated with the appropriate data).
Will these answers come? I believe so. The Library Linked Data Incubator Group is a good start — especially if they can provide examples as to how linked data will efficiently benefit end users in ways other technologies can not — but it will be a while before we see any signs that the “Early Majority” are ready to jump on board,